Meaning of Numbers in the Bible
The Number 38

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Meaning of Numbers: The Number 38

The English phrase "thirty and eight" used for the number 38 is recorded 4 times in 4 King James Bible verses.

The possible meaning of the number 38 is derived primarily from the children of Israel after they left Egyptian slavery and also from the Kings of Israel.

The Apostle Peter's ministry, like those of the other eleven apostles, began in 30 A.D. on the day of Pentecost. It ended with his martyrdom in either 67 or 68, which meant his ministry lasted 37 to 38 years. The original apostle that served the longest, however, is John. His ministry lasted an amazing 70 years until his death around 100 A.D.!

The book of Haggai is the eighth smallest section of Scripture. It has only 2 chapters, 38 verses and 1,131 words (KJV translation).

The New Testament's twenty-one letters (everything but the four gospels, Acts and Revelation) make up 38% of the New Testament.

Appearances of Number Thirty-Eight

King Jehoshaphat of Judah ascended to the throne in 872 B.C. and co-ruled with his father Asa for three years. He became, at the age of 38, Judah's sole ruler and reigned for another twenty-two years. Out of the Kingdom of Judah's twenty rulers (nineteen men and one woman), roughly eight of them are generally considered good (righteous) monarchs. Jehoshaphat was one of these eight.

Sadly, the Kingdom of Israel never enjoyed an occasional good ruler like her sister nation to the south. All twenty of its monarchs were corrupt. Its corruption at the top, however, reaches its worst streak starting with King Omri in 885 B.C. Then, in year 38 of Judah's King Asa, Omri's son Ahab ascends to Israel's throne (1Kings 16:29).

King Ahab indulged in a level of evil that was beyond any Israelite monarch before him (1Kings 16:30). After a sinful rule of twenty-year years his son Azaziah governs for two years (1Kings 22:51). Joram, the last of Omri's line to rule Israel, then governs for twelve years until army officer Jehu takes the throne in 841.

Famous People

The Hebrew word sarah, Strong's Concordance #H8283, is recorded 38 times in 37 Hebrew Old Testament verses. It is found only in the books of Genesis (37 times) and Isaiah (1). The word, which means "noblewoman," is untranslated in the King James as the name "Sarah."

Sarah was the wife of the patriarch Abraham. God, at the age of around 90, healed her womb which allowed the couple to produce Isaac. She was not only physically attractive, even at an advanced age, she was also a woman of great faith. She is the only female in the entire Bible where her age at death is recorded.

And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be (Genesis 17:15, KJV).

And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her (Genesis 23:1 - 2, KJV).

The Hebrew word shimshon, Strong's Concordance #H8123, is recorded 38 times in 37 Hebrew Old Testament verses. Found entirely in the book of Judges (38 times), the word means "sunlight" or "like the sun." It is translated as the name "Samson" in the King James.

Samson, a Nazarite from the womb, was given superhuman strength to fulfill his goal of freeing Israel from Philistine domination (Judges 13). During his 20 years as a Judge over Israel, he was the single greatest threat the Philistine nation faced. After he sins and succumbs to Delilah's charms, he redeems himself by offering his life for the sake of God's people.

And Samson (shimshon) said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life (Judges 16:30, KJV).

The Number 38 and Punishment

Two years after leaving Egypt the Israelites send spies from Kadesh, where they were located, into the Promised Land. Their task was to report on all they saw, including the number and strength of cities they viewed and the quality of the farmland (Num. 13:17 - 20). Upon their return, their faithless report brings God's wrath on the people and causes them to wander the wilderness an additional 38 years (Num. 32:8 - 13).

The Lord, at the completion of Israel's punishment (38 years after the initial report from their spies), finally commands the people to travel north. They are allowed to cross the Zered River into the territory belonging to the Moabites (Deuteronomy 2:13 - 15). Then, only after the death of both Aaron and Moses, are the Israelites allowed to go west and cross the Jordan into their inheritance.

Verse 38 of 1Kings 18 records Elijah calling down fire from heaven in order to consume his sacrifice to God.

Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the burnt sacrifice and the wood, and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench (1Kings 18:38, HBFV).

The Bible speaks of nine other times fire came down from heaven (Genesis 19, Leviticus 9 and 10, Numbers 11 and 16, 2Kings 1 (it came down twice on Elijah's enemies), 1Chronicles 21 and 2Chronicles 7).

More Info on Biblical Meaning of 38

The Biblical writings that use "thirty and eight" for 38 are the books of Deuteronomy, 1Chronicles, Nehemiah and the gospel of John (one each).

There are 28 words and phrases in the Bible's original languages that are recorded exactly 38 times.

The number 38 is the product of 2 x 19, both of which are primes. It is also equal to the cube of the first three primes or (2 x 2) + (3 x 3) + (5 x 5).

In the Old Testament, the Biblical chapters of Genesis 19, 42, Exodus 30, 36, 40, Leviticus 7, 1Kings 6, 2Kings 15, Nehemiah 9, Isaiah 37, Jeremiah 25 and Ezekiel 36 contain 38 verses in the King James translation.

In the New Testament, the chapters Matthew 9, Mark 8, Luke 3, 21, John 13 and Acts 20 have 38 verses in the KJV.

Zechariah, in year 38 of King Azariah of Judah's reign, ascended the throne of Israel in place of his father Jeroboam II (2Kings 15:8). He would ultimately have one of the shortest reigns of any king of Israel or Judah, reigning for only six months.

Zechariah was assassinated by Shallum, who took his crown in 752 B.C. Shallum himself would also suffer violence, as he was killed one month after become king by his successor Menahem (verses 13 to 14).

Mentioned only in one Gospel, Jesus performed a miracle that involved a person whose handicap kept him from being healed. Occasionally, at the Bethesda pool, an angel would stir its waters. The first person in the pool after the water stirred would then be healed of their diseases.

A man near the pool who had an infirmity for 38 years had repeatedly attempted, but failed, to reach the water before anyone else. His race to the pool was made extra difficult since he had no one to help him. Jesus decided, however, to take pity on the man and personally healed him (John 5:1 - 9)!

Recommended Articles
List of the Judges of Israel!
Learn About the Life of Samson!
What Is Required of a Nazarite Vow?
Did Peter Die Nailed Upside Down?
What is a Baptism by Fire?
What Actually Made Samson Strong?
Important People in the Old Testament
Jesus' Life and Ministry Timeline!

Biblical Meaning of Numbers
Introduction   -   Book of Numbers
Forgiveness Numbers  -  Abraham's Numbers
Mysterious Numbers of the Jubilee Year!
Mysterious Numbers of Biblical Calendar
Numbers of Israel's Kings   -   Lucky 13!
Infinity   -   Zero
One Tenth   -   One Third   -   One Half
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144000   -  500000   -  The Largest!
Prophecy Numbers   -   Numerology
Creation's Numerics   -   Further Study

Series References
Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural
Design and Spiritual Significance

Quotes related to the
meaning of the number 38 taken from
Holy Bible Faithful Version (HBFV)